Dead Names, Dead Dog: That Old (?) Black Magic

“Simon” starts the second part of Dead Names by decrying the critics who hold him accountable for his work not being a “pristine copy of an ancient Sumerian text” – or, as his opponents have actually argued, that he presents it as a Sumerian work.  To justify this, he points to various references in the Necronomicon‘s Introduction to later traditions – Akkadian, Coptic, Demotic, and so forth.  He claims that, while it contains much material on Sumer, Akkad and Babylon, it now appears to be “an attempt by a Middle Eastern occultist to syncretize the oral tradition of his cult, a Sumerian tradition, with the more literate Gnostic and neo-Platonist influences.”

It would be a convincing tale, if nobody had ever read the Necronomicon or the Necronomicon Spellbook.  As that’s clearly not the case, we can turn to those to examine how Simon actually chose to present the Necronomicon.

A brief look at the Necronomicon will show that “Simon” does, indeed, include occasional caveats about “bastardized” versions, Coptic words, Mandaic or Demotic influenced seals (which is frankly ridiculous), and Akkadian words.  Nonetheless, these are swamped by dozens of mentions of Sumerian civilization, its people, its language, and its beliefs, all emphasizing its age and mystery.  We can see exactly the same pattern in the Spellbook, so we know this wasn’t a mistake.

The strategy here is clear.  “Simon” was anticipating two groups of readers – those who knew little about Mesopotamian culture, and those who knew more.  For the first group, he hyped the book as the product of the world’s oldest civilization, knowing the hunger for authenticity and antiquity that so many have felt.  Within, he promised them, they would find a magical system more ancient than any power they knew.  For the second group, he inserted the occasional caveat, so that if called on his previous argument, he could point to them as proof that the book was more recent.

In Dead Names, “Simon” tries to blend together these two stories, saying that he really meant this all along.  There’s two reasons why this was a serious blunder on his part.

First, there’s just too much evidence that “Simon” tried to play up the book’s ancient, Sumerian roots, even mislabelling gods from later periods.  We see Marduk, a god who was the patron of the post-Sumerian Babylonian empire, being labelled as a “Sumerian God”.  We see Pazuzu being associated with 3000 B.C., even though the demonic star of The Exorcist wouldn’t appear in myth for another two thousand years.

Even “Simon’s” repeated argument in Dead Names that the Necronomicon is based in Neo-Platonism is belied by his claim, on a 1981 tape, that

The Necronomicon, on the other hand, has nothing in common with Neo-Platonism.

Second, in answering his opponents, Simon plays a cruel trick on his supporters.  From my experience, many (though not all) of the Necronomicon believers find the book appealing because it is supposedly the oldest magic on the planet, pre-dating every other recorded system of belief.  Now, Simon – who once trumpeted that “it was the magick of the Necronomicon that gave spawn to the religion of Sumer” – is telling them they’re practicing a system even younger than Christianity.  Simon has effectively delivered anyone who thought the Necronomicon was Sumerian into the hands of their critics.

No doubt some who believed the Necronomicon was Sumerian will be angry at this bait and switch.  Given Simon’s previous marketing, they have good reason to be.

Published in: on June 27, 2006 at 9:35 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. Marduk was a Sumerian deity, only he was known by a different name and was not yet considered one of the “primary deities”. do some research, it helps.

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